UW Football Schedule Primer – Nebraska


University of Nebraska (Public – Research Institution)
Mascot: Cornhuskers
Location: Lincoln, NE
Enrollment: 24,100

Date: 9/17/11

2010 Record: 10-4 (6-3 in Big 12 Conference)
Coach: Bo Pellini (4th year)

First Thought: This is the first season for Nebraska in the new 12-team Big Ten Conference. This has been a terrific series over the years, with the current record between UW and Nebraska of 4-4-1. I was in the stands at Husky Stadium as an in-coming freshman in 1992 when #12 Nebraska came to Seattle to take on the #2 ranked Huskies for a nationally televised night game on ESPN. The stadium with more than 73,000 fans was rocking more than I ever saw it again when UW went on to win 29-14. What a great introduction to the way Husky football was and should be!

Best Win: 31-7 over #7 ranked Missouri
Worst Loss: A 20-13 loss at home to a 5-7 Texas team. Although that 9-6 loss to #18 Texas A&M was quite the bore.

Last Game: 19-7 loss to Washington in the Holiday Bowl! Go Dawgs!

Recap: Revenge…That is what this game is all about for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Last year, Nebraska came into Husky Stadium and embarrassed the Huskies 56-21. That game was right in the middle of two teams headed in opposite directions. Nebraska would go onto start the season 9-1, while Washington ended up at 3-6. But, then things began to turn around for both teams in mid-November. After being embarrassed in two consecutive weeks by Arizona (41-0) and Oregon (53-16), Washington won three straight games including two on the road in the final minutes to get to 6-6 and become bowl eligible. A quirk of bowl alliances resulted in UW moving up to a Holiday Bowl invite when USC was ineligible and Oregon made it to the National Title Game.

#9 Nebraska on the other hand lost that rediculous game in College Station 9-6 to Texas A&M and then Nebraska lost to Oklahoma 23-20 in the Big 12 Championship game to be knocked out of BCS consideration. A deflated Nebraska team was sent to San Diego for their second straight Holiday Bowl. The stage was set… UW was riding high getting to their first bowl in years and had revenge on their minds for the drubbing in Seattle earlier in the season. Nebraska was less motivated and figured it would be a cake walk similar to September anyways. But, UW went in and executed extremely well. Nebraska had no answers for Chris Polk as he ran for 177 yards on 34 carries. But, even more impressive was the stifling defense, including Mason Foster’s 12 tackles and 2 sacks.

Synopsis: But, you can bet Nebraska will be extremely motivated and with revenge on their minds when the Huskies head to Lincoln and face 81,000+ red-clad fans in Memorial Stadium. The State of Nebraska lives and breathes college football. I spent two weeks in Nebraska last fall and everywhere I went from Scottsbluff to Kearney to Lincoln, the red N flag flies in homes, businesses, and car windows.

And, don’t expect to see a weakened team either. Nebraska has been selected by the media to be the winner of the Big Ten Legends Division by 19-4 votes over Michigan State and was predicted to win the Big Ten Championship Game over Wisconsin 12-11. Starting QB Taylor Martinez will be back leading the way. Yes, there were “issues” between he and Bo Pellini last year. But, he is the undisputed leader of the team and with his quick feet and accurate release, it will be tough to stop the Nebraska air attack. He also has to be watched closely as he can run (137 yards against UW in the first game).

However, it is on defense that Nebraska is really expected to dominate. Nebraska had three defenders recieve at least one 1st place vote on the predicted Defensive MVP media poll. DL Jared Crick recieved 15 votes, LB Levonte David recieved 7 votes, and CB Alfonzo Dennard recieved 1 first place vote. They have a stifling defense that stuffs the run and pressures QB’s before they make accurate passes down field. Everyone remember how Jake Locker couldn’t do anything against that defense in the first game as he went 4 for 20 for 71 yards and 2 interceptions? It didn’t help that Chris Polk only had 55 yards on 17 carries!

Nebraska’s in-coming recruiting class was also one of the top in the nation this year and there are several true freshman expected to contribute  immediately. 5-star running back Aaron Green is expected to immediately contend for a starting spot with junior Rex Burkhead (951 yards last year as the backup). Green’s amazing speed and elusiveness will make him a force to be reckoned with. And with huge Offensive Linemen like Ryan Klachko coming in, it is going to be very difficult even getting to Taylor Martinez, if you can catch him. While Nebraska lost two of its top recievers from last year, they feel more than prepared to deal with that with Brandon Kinnie and Kyler Reed still in the fold.

Analysis: Washington’s biggest fear of course is that they go into Lincoln, that vaunted defense stuffs them early, the sea of red in the stands goes crazy, and then Taylor Martinez starts lighting it up with the short field after a few punts. This game could get ugly in a hurry (as many games against top opponents have the last few years). But, there are three reasons for hope for Washington. First of all, it is that Steve Sarkisian has a pretty good handle on Nebraska’s style, having played them twice last season. They also have some confidence that they can beat them, since they did pretty easily in the Holiday Bowl. Secondly, Washington will have played two games already against successively more difficult, but air attack oriented offenses. With those two games under their belt, we can hope a lot of the jitters are gone and the playbook has been tweaked just enough to be efficient in Lincoln. However, Nebraska is and always has been a run-first offense and UW’s defensive front-line will not have seen much of a rushing attack after the first two games.

Lastly, it is that Sarkisian finally has some of his own talent in there. Hopefully the depth and experience of the offensive line, wide reciever corps, and especially having Chris Polk will allow the new QB (whether it is Price or Montana) to get comfortable with the game, despite the intimidating crowd, and they get the protection they need and the opportunities to call the plays they need (rather than 3rd and longs all day) to be successful and mix it up offensively.

So, while I do think it is possible for UW to keep this game close, or even pull off a shocker, I am not confident that will be the result. This is a game of a good offense (UW) against a great defense (Neb) and a good offense (Neb) against a mediocre defense (UW). How will it all play out? Sometimes luck has something to do with it, and I hope I am surprised, but I am not optimistic.

Prediction: Nebraska 48 Washington 17